This game’s main story was always going to involve the debut of Andy Carroll. 24 hours after confirmation of his loan from Liverpool, he went straight into Sam Allardyce’s first XI.
That came as little surprise – new signings often need time to settle in, but any doubt about his tactical role was unlikely. As with all Allardyce sides, it was long balls towards the big man straight away – and West Ham went ahead within a minute.
But it wasn’t Carroll’s aerial threat that directly threatened the Fulham defence. In Brede Hangeland the away side had a strong centre-back that relishes physical confrontations, and although Carroll won the majority of his aerial duels (9 from 15, 60%), he didn’t have any headed attempts on goal. His only shot was hit from outside the penalty area, and was blocked. Read more »